Is the Bible from God? Christians believe that it is. Some of them believe because of an inner experience of God’s power. Some have found the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ miracles and resurrection to be credible and see these accounts as proving the Bible as a whole to be inspired. Some have been persuaded by the claim that Jesus’ life fulfilled dozens, or perhaps even hundreds, of prophecies from the Old Testament. Some feel that everyone ought to presume the Bible to be true without further discussion.
Being a Christian myself, I preach Jesus as the world’s Lord and Savior and the Bible as divine truth. Productive faith is a treasure no matter how a person comes to have it. But to me it seems that argument and evidence as well as personal experience are among many means God’s Spirit employs to draw people to Christ.
I sympathize to some degree with people who have never had faith and who find common arguments for Christianity, when considered in isolation, to be unpersuasive. People from conflicting religious traditions have claimed that an inner experience has made them certain of what they believe. Accounts of apparently miraculous events, witnessed by people seemingly of sound mind and character, are approached with skepticism by most of us, whether Christians or not, if the accounts conflict with our preexisting beliefs. And while the Bible acknowledges the value of knowing whom the witnesses are to important events and how they were in a position to have seen and heard what they claim to, the Gospels ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are, strictly speaking, anonymous; none of the Gospel authors plainly identifies himself, informs us of which events he personally witnessed and which he did not, or informs us of whom exactly he consulted for second-hand information and under what circumstances.
Most of the prophecies fulfilled by Jesus are not explicitly predictive of the coming Messiah. In most cases they are snippets culled from a large volume of Old Testament narratives, poetry and prophetic writings. Unless we already possess faith in the integrity of the Gospel narratives, the question might at least go through our minds as to whether all the purported fulfillments are historical. To understand how they might not be, consider a modern example. At Christmastime we often see manger scenes containing the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and a bull and a donkey. But the Gospels themselves make no mention of a bull and donkey. Christian artists have added these animals to the scene believing that their presence would have been appropriate based on Isaiah 1:3. This shows how easy it is to introduce a small detail to Jesus’ life out of the sincere assumption that he fulfilled Old Testament scripture. So no one need accuse early believers of dishonesty to suggest, for example, that owing to certain passages in the Psalms they may have assumed that Jesus was thirsty during the crucifixion and that soldiers cast lots over his garments (John 19:24, 28; cf. Ps. 22:18; 69:21).
I am convinced that the Gospels are a faithful record of Jesus’ life, miracles, crucifixion and resurrection. I also believe that Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies. But it is the spiritual sense of the Bible’s message in the light of our experience as flawed human beings, rather than than arguments from the accuracy of Gospel reportage and fulfillment of prophecy, that most powerfully speak for the truth of the biblical gospel. That spiritual sense–what is often referred to as the “ring of truth”–is enhanced by the remarkable integration of symbols and themes across biblical documents.
People often consider symbolism to be hopelessly subjective, the last place to look for hard evidence. One of the purposes of this website is to change that perception. Symbols and types can no more be treated with perfect objectivity than can anything else, but they can be analyzed using reasonable controls. In these pages I attempt to make the case that when the symbols in the Bible are so analyzed, the results defy explanation other than by divine inspiration. To determine whether or not I succeed will require you to make an investment of your time and attention. Please make that investment today.